At the end of 2018, Jim Perkins, former Chevrolet general manager, passed away at the age of 83. While the legacy that he left behind is immense, one of his greatest accomplishments still resonates today. When sales faltered in the late 1980s and it was deemed “nonessential” to the bowtie brand, Jim Perkins saved the Chevrolet Corvette from the chopping block.
Perkins spent 1960-1984 working with Chevrolet, and he
returned to the company in 1989 after a brief stint with a competitor. When he
came back on as general manager, the Corvette was in danger of getting axed at
the end of its fourth generation because sales had dropped off. While other
head honchos at General Motors felt that the Corvette’s time had passed,
Perkins had the foresight to see how important it was to the brand’s identity.
He found the money in the budget to create prototypes for the fifth-generation Corvette, which hit the scene in 1997 and became a major hit. We can basically thank Perkins, in effect, for the 755-horsepower 2019 Chevy Corvette ZR1 — the fastest and most powerful Corvette ever put to the road.
Perkins’ legacy also includes helping Chevrolet win six
times at the Indy 500 and five NASCAR championships, as well as helping kick
off the legacy of the Chevrolet Silverado. Hirlinger Chevrolet honors the
legacy and impact of Jim Perkins and thanks him for keeping the Corvette alive.